I guess the meeting’s over?
Still looking to get in contact with Olof Östensson and Norbert Black. If either of you are out there, please send me an email!
I am suspicious of his sudden worry over telepathy.
He does seem rather more worried than the others. Hmm.
That is a tad suspicious, but on the other hand it could also reflect perfectly legitimate privacy concerns. Even if they don’t mean any harm, those two have no business hearing everyone else’s thoughts. Just because you’re not doing anything wrong doesn’t mean you have nothing to hide. Some things you just don’t want everyone else to know.
Plus, this could mean that the Miesti have an extremely powerful weapon to use against the crew and any other enemy: Most people they sting end up complacent and obedient, right? For all Darvin knows, they also all end up psychic. And the people they ended up all buddy-buddy with back on the planet did include some people who’d been rescued from the Miesti. So for all Darvin knows, they just spent a long time in the company of a bunch of mind-reading spies! Worse yet, for all he knows, Zan and Aria are also mind-reading spies, whether they know it or not!
One, the two have insisted (and this has been medically verified) that the telepathy is gone now. This is clearly tied to the drug the Miesti produce.
Two, the telepathy is not reliable. One person could hear certain thoughts but not in a controlled or even bearable fashion. The other was unable to do it. There was no control over it. If they had control, it would be reasonable expectation for them not to abuse this power.
Three, even if the telepathy was still active and if it was under control, there is little indication that the Miesti have control over it. From what we saw the Miesti use humans as body-slaves and can’t communicate directly mind-to-mind (or outright refuse to the point of inability). They control the bodies but not the minds (which would explain why their people are so well-fed: they keep the bodies in good stock).
Four, even if the Miesti learn much from them, the two “spies” on-board are in another universe. It is quite reasonable to assume that they are cut off even if telepathy had magical range.
Fifth, even if not, the Miesti can use little of the information they learned. They are stuck on their world with roughly medieval-level tech or worse. If they could have made a new ship they already would have.
Sixth, the two “spies” are under medical observation.
How do you medically verify that telepathy is gone? What test could you possibly run to verify that someone couldn’t read your mind, when they could just read your mind to find out what you’re expecting to hear and just base their answer on that? Is telepathy even something that was known to exist in this world before this mission?
Besides, if it had been verified and that verification could be trusted implicitly, Scavina wouldn’t have asked about it again in the previous strip.
More to the point, this all depends on perspective: We and Zan and Aria know the telepathy is not reliable. But Darvin hasn’t been reading the comic because he’s too busy being a character in it. He doesn’t know any of the things we know, such as the limits of the Miesti’s abilities, or those of the telepathy, or the exact way in which the Miesti made that one woman go sit down and not bother them while they were working on Aria. Even if he got all that from Zan and Aria’s testimony, he doesn’t know they’re not lying or that their memories haven’t been tampered with.
The range might be an issue now, especially if they did indeed jump back to their home universe (or even to a third one), but he could still be wondering if anyone gave anything important away while they were on the planet and whether or not that could come back to bite them later. (For instance, do the Miesti now know enough to be ready for them if they should return to rescue the Hiawatha crew?) Or he may be worrying about the possibility (however remote) that a Miesti snuck aboard and could take control of Zan and Aria or sting someone else.
Anyway, my point isn’t that Zan and Aria are spies; that strikes me as unlikely. It’s that the possibility makes some sense from Darvin’s perspective, and is one of many alternate reasons he might have for being uncomfortable besides harboring a dirty secret of his own.
I won’t answer everything but,
The telepathy has to be tied to the Miesti’s drug (forgot what they called it). That is a logical and reasonable assumption? Why? Because humans are not telepathic. This is not a subject of controversy, there have been scientific investigations into the matter and there is no evidence for it, nor would it make sense. Why would we evolve to talk if we had telepathy? We have extensively mapped the brain right now, and the brains of other creatures, and we have not found evidence for the existence of phenomenon telepathy. A certain fringe group will never believe this of course, but this is reasonable current scientific evidence.
The setting has made absolutely no mention of telepathy beforehand, so it is reasonable to assume that the same base assumption is there.
As for these two being suspected of not telling the truth, this is what I call “policeman’s dilemma”. To a policeman, a criminal will say the same thing as an innocent person would, I didn’t do it, I’m innocent. Either the person in front of you is a pathologic liar beyond your abilities to tell or simply telling the truth.
The only way out of this is to look at other evidence for whether something proves or disproves what they say. So far, there is little reason to doubt them. These two are not acting like being remote controlled by, say, a Miesti that snuck on board*. They are acting themselves up to their character faults. Why would they expose Zan to danger and save a life? Why would they let Ari go to her dying friend?
If a Miesti snuck on board, the control has gone and it is controlling someone else. Why use someone already suspect when a new body is available?
As for Darvin, his fears may be less rational than we think.
Telepathy is so common in fiction that we expect it to work this way, but have you stopped to consider what this would mean if it was reality? Apparently all humans broadcast all their thoughts all the time! And not only are human brains active transmitters, they are also almost receivers — all it took was the small addition of some drug to make the existing brain machinery operate in a slightly different manner. Yet we haven’t been able to build any machine that even gets close to detecting these transmissions (EEG captures nowhere near this level of detail, and is also operating at a completely different abstraction level) — is telepathy even likely to be electromagnetic radiation?? This could be the first glimpse of a whole new domain of physical phenomena! (Of course, it hasn’t been stated what physics is behind hyperspace jumps, so maybe telepathy is just a new face of something Darvin knows perfectly well but we the readers do not.)
Anyway, my point is that it is one thing that aliens can make some kind of transmissions that affect suitably drugged humans — the aliens probably have some parts of their physiology devoted to doing that then — and a completely different thing that all humans also make that kind of transmissions. It raises some rather worrying questions about why that happens…
Also, I don’t think “controlling the bodies” is an apt description of what the miesti is doing — it’s definitely done via the mind of the human. (Controlling someone else’s body directly would be a horribly complicated thing to do, considering how different it is from your own body and the sheer number of different muscles there are to control. Luckily most bodies come with a brain, that is already highly trained at controlling said body, so the easier path is to have the brain do the fine control for you.) Perhaps “The Sims” is a realistic model of how it works? To have a human do some piece of work, you walk the human to the appropriate workplace, and have it put its hands on some appropriate tools. A lot of the time, the human will then spontaneously start doing that work, thinking the decision to undertake it was its own doing.
Plus, you have to prove that they are spies. If they were spies, would they admit to their telepathic experiences.
And, it’s clear that he intends to “think about it” as much out of range as possible.
“Done”, or “gone”?
Would a spy admit to telepathic experiences? Of course they would.
1. It establishes that the subject is honest enough to admit to that sort of thing.
2. It puts your subjects on edge, and a good spy can use that to advantage.
Except there is such a thing as cost-benefit analysis. Giving away that you are a telepath is a tremendous cost, as people will be more guarded just by your presence and enlarge everyone’s paranoia. Even if you are trustworthy, it will be a niggling thought in people that will feed paranoia.
So what did either gain by telling this? If they are both spies, they could simply have just glossed over that part or lied. They certainly had time to go over it. If they were telepathic spies they could just be around people and talk to people while digging into their thought.
Second, yes putting people on edge can be useful but how is it here? How is telling people that you are a telepath a useful thing in this situation? Once you unveiled yourself as a telepath, unless you can alter people’s thoughts as well as read them, there is no going back. You just planted a seed of paranoia. What for? What do you gain?
Nothing good, not from regular exposure to that paranoia.
3. It gives a perfectly understandable reason if the spy later gets caught knowing something they shouldn’t. (Admitting it after getting caught would either sound like a ridiculous lie or get them in trouble for not mentioning it before.)
4. It will encourage them to try not to think about their secrets. Consciously trying not to think about something tends to result in thinking about it.
3. A real spy wouldn’t get caught like that in the first place. A spy cold always invent more lies. If they are clever enough spies to try this sort of tactic, they are clever enough to avoid using it in the first place.
4. Can backfire spectacularly simply by not allowing the telepath near you when you know you have something they shouldn’t know. Or if things start to go strange like sabotage, the telepath is going to be an instant scapegoat. They will know who to blame.
Walking out on a military debriefing? I don’t think so! That’s a good way to get your ass busted to swabbie. Of course, with that low of an emotional tolerance for the unusual, he doesn’t belong in the officer’s pool of space exploration.
None of the others would be allowed to get away with walking out. If Darvin can just walk out without Scavina ordering him back then that reveals something interesting about their relationship. Has Scavina come to depend on Darvin’s genius? Have they come to be co-leaders of the project? Is Darvin concerned that Scavina has been compromised by her time on the planet? Is this reveal such a big shock that no-one is behaving normally? Does Tara have something clever up her sleeve?
I don’t know, it seems like Fusella and Scavina have gotten away with a lot of (seemingly?) unprofessional behavior. On the other hand, at least one or the other of them has been in charge the entire time. Then again* Darvin also seems to have a fair amount of pull, whether officially or just because Fusella and Scavina respect him, or perhaps both. Maybe he’s just that important?
*TODO: Read some Pournelle/Niven so I can say “On the gripping hand…” without feeling dishonest.
- Fusella is running a relatively relaxed atmosphere. As long as the work gets done and people don’t take it too far, she isn’t going to fuss over proper respect. She runs the ship like family, not a business. Nelson doesn’t touch that because it’s not really her ship.
- This isn’t a normal situation. These people have more important things to do than worry about minute respect to protocol.
- Darvin doesn’t get away with his mistakes. Nelson gave him a talking down after his walk in the deep freeze, at the very least.
- It’s a comic. An obvious excuse, I know, but to make drama happen you can’t always go by what “should” be happening.
This would also be not a too bad a time to have a brake.
Didn’t they report telepathic ability when they first returned? The medtechs dismissed it as hallucinations, but surely Darvin read the medical reports. His sudden concern doesn’t seem right — surely he should have already considered the possibility.
He is taking them seriously because now they are rested, safe and medically sound. Previously, he could have chalked up what the medics reported simply to overexertion or to the juice in their veins producing delusions. That’s not possible now, neither of these people are the kind that confuse hallucinations with reality. What’s more, he has not just their word for it but other evidence as mentioned a few pages ago.
Having Serenity flashbacks here.
“Key members of Parliament. *Key*. The minds behind every military, diplomatic and covert operation in the galaxy, and you put them in a room with a psychic.”
P.S. Now I have the Fruity Oaty Bar tune stuck in my noggin. :s
I just finished reading Galaxion from the begenning! Very exciting story! I’ll add it to my favorites.
Can somebody tell me what is the update frequency of this comic?
Seems to be about once a month. Sometimes twice a month, but not always.
Bulle, Welcome, and we’re glad you like the story! Tara updates every other Tuesday. Sometimes her schedule gets hectic and she misses a week, but she does the best she can to hit the every other week schedule.
Tara this is a fantastic story! I first found Galaxion waaaay back when I was in college, but life got busy and it’s been about ten years since I read webcomics with any focus. I was recently reminded of Galaxion by something else I was reading and remembered how much I’d enjoyed it so I went searching to see if it still existed–and lo, I was in luck, because not only are you still making the comic but there were oodles of brand new pages for me to read! Well it had been so long that I decided to just start over at the beginning, and I’m so glad I did because it has fantastic pacing and flow when read all in a chunk like that! The story is great, the dialogue is fun, the art is lovely–and the color is excellent too!–and the characters are just delightful. I’m so glad you’ve decided to share this story with all of us. Now I just have to decide if I think I have the kind of willpower to restrict myself to only checking in periodically so I’ll have little chunks to read or if I’ll keep peeking in every week like an addict and read it page by page…my money’s on the latter, because how could I wait to see what happens next?
Anyway I only have one question: what are the odds of you going back to color the earlier strips, even just perhaps for a new print version in color someday whether you decide to post the colored pages on the website or not? Because your art looks great in B&W as well of course, but it would be wonderful to have the print copies “match” rather than switching suddenly from B&W to color, you know? Anyway just curious; the long and short of it is, I love this comic, and I hope you can keep doing it for a long, long time!
Considering this is a semi-military expedition, the value of a potential “telepathy drug” might well ensure another trip to notEarth, regardless of any further rescue mission for members of the Hiawatha.
it was just me, or did the site went offline yesterday?
Not just you.
The site has been on the fritz, going up and down regularly since last weekend.
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